I’m always a little startled when the holidays that end the year are suddenly upon us. Thoughts shift quickly to family gatherings, work parties, gifts and the looming advent of a New Year. Some of us will be glad to let this year go and look forward while others think of challenges ahead. But before all that we have the chance to celebrate in our own personal way.
For many years our family attended the Knoxville Nativity Pageant at the Civic Coliseum. First presented in 1969, this year’s version runs December 10th through 12th. We’ve also attended the Fantasy of Trees, which benefits Children’s Hospital, for somewhere over thirty years and will have our entourage there this Friday (it runs from today through Sunday). The Regal Celebration of Lights, including the lighting of the Christmas tree, our 42 foot version on Krutch Park featuring the synchronized lights which debuted last year, and the WDVX Ho Ho Hoedown also happen on Friday and we’ll hopefully catch all of that.
Despite my annual resolve to defer Christmas to post-Thanksgiving status, we’ll go out to the Clinch Avenue Viaduct this afternoon at 2:00 to see the Capitol Christmas tree as this year’s version marks its circuitous route to Washington, D.C. We’ll also attend the first performance of “A Christmas Carol,” which runs through December 16 at the Clarence Brown Theatre.
And there is much, much more. Friday morning the rides begin on the Three Rivers Rambler, “Christmas Rambler Express.” Friday night you’ll find a “new life-sized AT&T Snow Globe that families can stand inside for photos,” which sounds interesting. Emi Sunshine and others will perform on the Market Square stage and there will be a station for children to make cards, “to be sent to U.S. soldiers at the American Red Cross Cards for Heroes station.” You’ll also find, “carolers, train rides, pictures with Santa, face painting, and more.”
Of course, the ice rink opens the same day. Peppermint Panda will be on the ice rink – which last year removed its top and this year has clear “dasher boards,” making the skaters visible from all sides – and you’ll find a peppermint theme throughout downtown, with businesses and restaurants offering such peppermint-themed treats as “peppermint-flavored coffees, brownies, cocktails” and more. It’s part of a “Peppermint Trail” you’ll find marked on sidewalks outside participating venues.
Another addition to this year’s fun is the Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt. Similar to the “Where’s Waldo?” campaign this past summer, children will be invited to find the elf in each of the participating businesses. A passport available at any of the businesses is marked with each find and prizes, treats and other fun will be found along the way. Knoxville is host to the first community-wide Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt and it will run from Friday through Christmas Eve. You’ll find details here.
In addition to those mentioned above, there are other Christmas performances. “Keyboards at Christmas” is presented at the Tennessee Theatre this Sunday. On Sunday, Dec. 4, the Knoxville Community Band will perform a free Christmas Concert at the Bijou Theatre and on Sunday, Dec. 11, the Tennessee Theatre will host two free showings of the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra presents, “A Swingin’ Christmas with Niki Harris” at the Tennessee Theatre December 8. The Tennessee Theatre is also the site for a screening of “White Christmas,” (12/18), the Moscow Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” (12/20) and Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas concert (12/21).
The Knoxville Coliseum hosts the Appalachian Ballet Company’s production of the “Nutcracker Suite,” (12/3 and 4), the Contemporary Dance Ensemble’s “Holiday Spectacular,” (12/10), the Gay Men’s Chorus production of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” (12/11) and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s 30th Annual Clayton Holiday Concert (12/16, 17 and 18).
One of my favorite events of the season is always the Tour de Lights five mile bike ride complete with hundreds of decorated bikes and lots of happy cyclists. Last year over 1,000 people participated despite the cold and the number this year could well exceed that number. It all starts from Market Square on December 16. I’ll have Kelley Segars of the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization and Jon Livengood of Knoxville City Engineering on Knoxcentric (WUTK) December 4 to talk details about the Tour de Lights.
First Friday, December 2 will find a number of businesses and galleries going with a Christmas theme. One of the things I think will be particularly special is the Blount Mansion Open House starting at 6:00 that evening. Come by for period decorations, music and light refreshments and enjoy a quiet moment with Knoxville’s Christmas past. The Mabry-Hazen House during the Christmas season is also one of the most beautiful stops you can make – and it’s just over the hill to the east. And if it’s historic tours you want, the Old North Victorian Home Tour is hard to beat (Dec 3 and 4).
It will all come to a close as we welcome in a new year on Market Square with music, fireworks and a ball drop at midnight December 31.
There’s so much going on, the city has developed an app and a website just for the purpose of following it all: “Search for “Knoxville Events.” All Christmas in the City events and updates also will be listed on the City of Knoxville’s website: www.knoxvilletn.gov/christmas.”
Here are a few details offered by the city for much of the above in a handy list:
Regal Celebration of Lights – Friday, Nov. 25
Market Square, Market Street and Krutch Park Extension
Downtown Knoxville is transformed into a Christmas village
A 42-foot-tall animated Christmas tree in Krutch Park Extension will be lit
Krutch Park and surrounding streets will sparkle with more than 100,000 lights
Free activities include pictures with Santa Claus, hot cocoa by the Salvation Army, face painting, balloon animals and much more
Train rides for children of all ages will be offered
A Christmas marketplace with vendors will be set up
WDVX Holiday Ho-Ho-Hoedown entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. on the Market Square Stage, with the Market Square Stage tree-lighting ceremony
Knoxville’s Holiday on Ice – Nov. 25 through Jan. 8, 2017
The rink will be open every day, weather permitting, except for Christmas Day
Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children 12 years and younger, and that includes skate rental and sales tax